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The governance of Warrington & Vale Royal College is carried out by a Governing Body comprised of highly experienced individuals, who have extensive experience across industry, business, law, finance and the community, as well as students and staff.

The Governing Body meets at least twice each term to discuss the college’s strategy and its progress on key performance matters. The Governing Body also has five sub-committees, which look at the college’s performance on finance and quality matters and in more detail at all key areas of the business.

Governors also play an active role in college life through support and advice, as well as attending events and promoting the good work the college does in the community.

    Become a Governor at Warrington & Vale Royal College

    Do you have an interest in education and training? Would you like to play an important role in becoming part of a progressive and innovative educational establishment committed to meeting the needs of the community it serves? If so, then becoming a member of the Board at Warrington & Vale Royal College may be the perfect opportunity for you. In particular, we are looking for individuals who have the skills and experience to join our Audit Committee.

    If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Governor, please contact: Laura Churchill, Clerk to the Corporation, who can arrange an informal discussion with Mervyn Ward, Chair of the Governing Body or Nichola Newton, Chief Executive and Principal by emailing: or phoning: 01925 494 468.

    Governor Role Description

    Audit Committee

    Robert Cox (Committee Chair)

    Andrew Ellams

    Sam Naylor

    Gill Hopwood-Bell

    Finance & Resources Committee

    Steven Broomhead (Committee Chair)

    Andrew Bainbridge (Vice Chair)

    Lucy Gardner

    Nichola Newton

    Peter Scott

    Mervyn Ward

    Standards & Curriculum Committee

    Kirstie Simpson (Committee Chair)

    Martin Berman

    Nichola Newton

    Geoff Spencer

    Paula Rowland

    Caroline Rowley

    Nicola Wilson

    & Co-opted member Martin Sim

    Search & Governance Committee

    Andrew Ellams (Committee Chair)

    Andrew Bainbridge

    Nichola Newton

    Mervyn Ward

    Senior Staff Salaries Committee

    Steven Broomhead (Committee Chair)

    Mervyn Ward

    Meet our Governors

    Nichola Newton Governance

    Nichola Newton: Principal and Chief Executive

    Nichola Newton joined the college as principal and CEO in 2015 and has expansive, sectoral knowledge and professional experience spanning 29 years. Nichola is a passionate advocate of education and life-long learning as transformative and has a strong belief in the development of skills as a key driver of economic growth. Nichola holds a BA (Hons), a PGCE, a Masters in Research and the CIM Diploma in Marketing.

    Nichola started her career in London and subsequently worked in two Beacon colleges in Lancashire - Runshaw College and Nelson & Colne College - where she learned ‘from two exceptional principals’ the very best ways to lead and motivate teams to perform well and fulfil their potential. Thereafter, Nichola established a proven track record of whole-college improvement in the positions of Deputy Principal at Ashton Sixth Form College and subsequently at Leeds City College. Nichola is values-driven and customer-focused with a demonstrable track record of achievement and she has continued to enjoy success in her current position as the principal and CEO of Warrington & Vale Royal College, a college borne out of a 2017 merger between the former Mid Cheshire College and Warrington Collegiate.

    Mervyn Ward Chair of the Corporation

    Mervyn Ward: Chair of the Corporation, Finance & Resources Committee, Search & Governance Committee and Senior Staff Salaries Committee

    Mervyn Ward has been a Governor of the college since 2017, shortly before retiring as an Internal Audit Manager at the Ministry of Justice. Earlier in his career, Mervyn had worked in accounts and finance, and internal audit with organisations ranging from local government, atomic energy, further and higher education and non-departmental public body. As well as this, Mervyn completed 15 years as a part-time lecturer at what was then Warrington Collegiate.

    Mervyn came to Warrington & Vale Royal College with over 25 years’ experience of school governance and is our link Governor for careers. As well as serving at the college, Mervyn uses his educational, financial and management background as a Non-Executive Director at Livewire Warrington, serving as an independent school’s appeals panellist and coach, officiate and helps with the athletics administration.

    Steven Broomhead Governance

    Professor Steven Broomhead: Vice Chair of the Corporation, Chair of Finance & Resources Committee and Chair of Senior Staff Salaries Committee

    Professor Steven Broomhead has been a Governor at the college since 2017. He is the Chief Executive at Warrington Borough Council, a role he has performed on a part time basis since 2012. Steven holds the Chair of Entrepreneurial Education at Liverpool Hope University. He has also previously been a principal at two further education colleges. Steven was Chief Executive of the Northwest Development Agency and was responsible for the economic development of the Northwest.

    Steven has been a Chairman for Warrington Wolves, Recycling Lives - a social value driven charity/business, Data Clinic Ltd and is a chairman Governor of a primary school. Steven has also been an advisor to the department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Steven states that he is passionate about social enterprise, regeneration, good governance and making people happy and confident.

    Andrew Ellams Governance

    Andrew Ellams: Chair of Search & Governance Committee and Audit Committee

    Andrew Ellams has been a Governor of the college since February 2020. Andrew used to work as a part-time lecturer of business at Halton College before progressing on to Head of Department and later Assistant Principal for Business Development and Employer Services. Whilst in this role, Andrew played a part in setting up the joint Trade Union Education Unit within the former Warrington Collegiate Institute.

    Andrew currently works as an Education and Skills Consultant – working with further education colleges, training providers and schools across the country. Andrew is an avid pianist and organist, and has played the organ at Frodsham Methodist Church for 30 years.

    Kirstie Simpson Governance

    Kirstie Simpson: Chair of Standards & Curriculum Committee

    Kirstie Simpson has been a Governor of the college since December 2020. Kirstie worked as a Programme Leader for Sports Studies at the Padgate Campus of the former Warrington Collegiate Institute in 2001. In 2004-2005, the higher education provision at the college was assimilated by Chester College, now known as the University of Chester. In the twenty years since, Kirstie has had various roles at the university and is now the Deputy Dean of the Business School.

    More recently, Kirstie’s work has been focussed on the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge and the development of skills via the decarbonisation supply chain. Kristie is the chair of the Skills, Learning and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) subcommittee for the HyNet project, and is currently studying for her Doctorate of Education (EdD).

    Andrew Bainbridge Governance

    Andrew Bainbridge: Vice Chair of the Finance & Resources Committee and Vice Chair Search & Governance Committee

    Andrew Bainbridge has been a Governor of the college since September 2020 where he sits on two committees. Andrew is an experienced Business Controller with an extensive history of working in the engineering industry. Andrew has great skills in accounting, internal controls, problem solving, root cause analysis, charge management, contract negotiation and contract management. Andrew refers to himself as a strong finance and accounting professional with an MA in Engineering from Cambridge University.

    Andrew is now focusing on providing voluntary, non-executive support to organisations in need of experienced and qualified finance and accounting leadership at board level. He is an ordinary member of the IMechE finance board.

    Martin Berman Governance

    Martin Berman: Standards & Curriculum Committee

    Martin Berman has been a Governor of the college since October 2020. Martin’s early career was in further and higher education, where he worked as an IT lecturer before progressing to the role of senior lecturer. He has been course leader for both business and computer studies as well as being a BTEC Moderator

    Martin has a degree in Economics with Financial Control from the University of Lancaster and a Masters in Managing Information Technology from the University of Salford. After his career in education, Martin went on to become a Management and IT Consultant, and a global programme manager for some large IT programmes. Martin is currently semi-retired, running a small leisure boating company, Go Earth Ltd.

    Geoff Spencer Governance

    Geoffrey Spencer: Standards & Curriculum Committee

    Geoffrey Spencer has been a Governor of the college since September 2020. Geoffrey has over 30 years’ experience working in further education, beginning his career as a teacher before progressing on to management roles at various levels. Since 2015, Geoffrey has worked in consultancy and interim management, supporting recovery in failing curriculum areas.

    Geoffrey has extensive knowledge and experience in engineering and manufacturing, and works as an EQA for City & Guilds and also works for EAL as a subject matter expert. He is also a Chartered Manager and member of the Chartered Management Institute as well as a member of the British Association of Construction Heads (BACH).

    Peter Scott Governance

    Peter Scott: Finance & Resources Committee

    Dr. Peter Scott has been a Governor of the college since 2019. Peter financed his early academic career by working as a seaman in the Norwegian Merchant Navy. He had circumnavigated the world before his 20th birthday. After graduating with a degree in Sports Science and Geography, Peter began his career in sales, marketing and general management in the sport, leisure and pharmaceutical sectors. He was then awarded an MBA before becoming an academic. Until December 2022 he was Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Management at Liverpool John Moores University.

    Peter is a Board Member of the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society, Associate Editor of the International Journal of Organisational Analysis and is a Liverpool Ambassador. Peter is also a Chartered Marketer and he holds a doctorate in the destination marketing of Cheshire and Warrington. During his academic career, Peter amassed over 20 peer-reviewed publications and he has presented his research all over Europe

    Caroline Rowley Governance

    Caroline Rowley: Standards & Curriculum Committee

    Caroline Rowley has been a Governor at the college since February 2023. She currently works for the Department of Education as a Skills Strategy Advisor. Prior to this Caroline was a regional director in Yorkshire & Humber for the Association of Colleges for seventeen years. Previous roles have included Head of Education at National Museums Liverpool and Regional Director for Campaign for Learning. Earlier in her career, she was Access Manager at North Trafford College and Quality Manager at Lancashire College.

    Voluntary roles have included governor at Kirklees College, Trustee at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens and Regional Committee Member for BBC Children in Need. Caroline has a degree in Education, master’s degree in education and Institute of Directors Diploma in Company Direction.

    Lucy Gardner Governance

    Lucy Gardner: Finance & Resources Committee

    Lucy Gardner has been a Governor at the college since 2021, her key responsibilities is as a safeguarding link governor. Lucy has previously worked as a Director of Strategy and Partnerships and worked for the Warrington & Halton NHS Trust.

    Sam Naylor Governance

    Sam Naylor: Audit Committee

    Sam Naylor has been a Governor at the college since 2019. His current role is as a Vale Royal Working Group Member. Sam is currently retired but has a part-time role as a Cheshire West, Chester and Northwich Town Councillor.

    Gill Bell-Hopwood Governor Headshot

    Gill Bell-Hopwood: Audit Committee

    Gill Bell-Hopwood has been a Governor of the college since March 2023. Gill currently works as an Audit Partner at KPMG based in their Northwest Practice, having originally joined the organisation as a graduate in 2005 after achieving her degree from the University of Birmingham in Accounting & Finance. She quickly progressed to Senior Manager within Audit where she has worked with audits of large and/or listed retailers and manufacturers. After a venture elsewhere when she returned from maternity leave, Gill returned to KPMG as an Audit Director and was then promoted to Audit Partner in October 2022.

    Gill has wonderful expertise in financial accounting, audit, good governance, and people management as a result of the roles she has held throughout her career. She is particularly passionate about ensuring young people from lower social economic backgrounds are not held back from realising their full potential in their chosen career.

    Staff Governors

    Ben Brady Governance

    Ben Brady

    Ben Brady has been a Governor of the college since January 2023. Ben has worked in further education since September 2007, including time working at Mid Cheshire College, Sir John Dean’s College and most recently Warrington & Vale Royal College. Ben has been a Lecturer in Art and Design for 10 years, followed by 6 years in managerial roles where he currently resides as Assistant Director of Creative Arts.

    Headshot of Debbie Warren Safeguarding Welfare Manager

    Debbie Warren

    Debbie has been a Governor of the college since March 2024. Debbie has worked at the college since October 2000, following a career with NatWest Bank. She opted for a change in career and looked for a move into education. Progressing through a number of roles at the college has allowed her to gain a good understanding of college protocols and operations. Her current position is Safeguarding & Welfare Manager.

    Could you be a Warrington & Vale Royal College Governor?

    Do you have an interest in education and training? Would you like to play an important role in becoming part of a progressive and innovative educational establishment committed to meeting the needs of the community it serves? Do you have leadership skills that you could use to serve your community?

    If you have an interest in education and would like to play an important role in becoming part of a progressive educational establishment committed to meeting the needs of the local community, then becoming a member of the Board at Warrington & Vale Royal College may be the perfect opportunity for you! You can register your interest for future opportunities as they arise by contacting the Clerk to the Corporation,

    Being a Governor is a highly rewarding voluntary role, working with others to ensure that the college meets the needs of the community it serves.

    In October 2019 Warrington & Vale Royal College was officially commended as Good by Ofsted and we celebrated some of the highest pass rates in England, ranking us in the top 10 nationally for the third consecutive year. Our mission is 'Realising potential, transforming lives'.

    The essential requirements for joining us are a commitment and interest in contributing to the leadership of first class educational and training opportunities for young people and adults in Warrington and Vale Royal.

    Your commitment:

    • Attending meetings of the Governing Body
    • Reading papers in advance of meetings
    • Participation in discussions and debates
    • To scrutinise and challenge
    • Gaining experience through membership of sub-committees
    • Participation in training and other events.

    Governing Corporation Board Minutes

    Financial Statements

    Key Governance Documents